Pros: Decent audio quality when it works, small size
Cons: cheaply manufactured/designed. Did not live up to the hype.
I purchased this DAC/Amplifier with the expectation it would perform at least to the level of the Asus Essence STx it was replacing. The unit was purchased from
amazon.com, and delivered relatively quickly. Box/Manual/Packaging were all very nicely done. Now to the meat of the review, my initial impression.
The unit felt pretty well constructed, with a decent heft, however the volume control is a cheap rubber knob id expect on something in the 30 dollar range, poor
decision audinst! This is not a cheap device, and the knob most used makes it feel like crap, what were you thinking, a aluminum knob is not that expensive...
The initial audio quality was great, so I thought. Over the next few days I listened to a good variety of uncompressed audio ripped from cd's I own, and I noticed more
random static and popping in the higher frequency range the more I listened, which was very demoralizing from such an expensive unit. I even went to the extent of
trying a new LME49990 op-amp to see if maybe the factory op-amp was defective, which it was not.
After a few days, more issues arose, such as the unit not detecting half of the time, and when it did, sometimes the audio is completely garbled and grainy, like there
is some issue with the DAC portion of the unit. Additionally, the auto off feature is an absolute nightmare if you plan on using this unit connected to the XLR inputs of
any studio monitor, you get constant popping every time the unit "decides" its a good time to power down. PLEASE GIVE US A POWER SWITCH!
I wasn't expecting the world of this unit, but it severely disappointed me, directly comparing it to my Essence STX, well there was no comparison, the Essence STX was
higher quality in every aspect. I could not and would not recommend any Audinst product going forward, for this amount of money, it should at least play clear audio and
detect regularly, these defects are a fatal flaw.
In the end, I would not recommend this unit to anyone who switches between headphones and the RCA outs, as the volume levels are not balanced at all. You're much
better looking to an established company such as Schiit for a good unit (Asgard 2).